Sunday, September 20, 2020

Minus Mynas

Spending Saturday mornings birding at U.P. Diliman had become sort of a routine for us. With the ongoing quarantine, that is the only place where we seniors are allowed to go to.

As we headed to our first stop, I saw a pair of Crested Mynas on the ground. I parked the car, took out our gear (which was still packed in their respective bags) only to find out that the black birds had flown away. From there we proceeded to our regular first stop - the bare tree along the road. There some Black-naped Orioles were calling to each other.

A pair of Philippine Pygmy Woodpeckers were busily looking for food.

Other than those two species, there were no other birds at the tree. Across from it though was a Collared Kingfisher perched on an electric wire.

From there we went to the MSI grounds. There we were greeted by a family of Philippine Magpie-Robins frolicking on the trees.

Then a Pied Triller showed up with food in mouth even.

A female Olive-backed Sunbird surprisingly was on a branch and not on the flowering shrubs.

At the Astrodome, we couldn't believe that the Long-tailed Shrike and the Zebra Dove were not at their usual hangouts. Thankfully, the Scaly-breasted Munias were there, although a bit farther than usual.

A Brown Shrike was way up on top of a tree basking in the morning sun.

As we were about to get in our car, I saw the Long-tailed Shrike.

We were already driving off when a Zebra Dove flew from the ground and perched on a fence. At last we got its photo taken while we were inside our car.

It was another fruitful birding day at U.P. Diliman. We got most of the birds we expected to photograph, minus the Mynas.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Hanging There

It was a dark, gloomy and cloudy morning but we were determined to go birding. As we drove out of our condo, I decided to stop across the bare tree just before exiting to C5. In our daily walk, we have seen birds perched on the branches of this tree, so this time I had my camera hoping to take some photos of those birds. As expected, the Coppersmith Barbets were there. But as I mentioned earlier, the weather was not favorable so only "documentary" shots were taken.

At the campus of the U.P. Diliman, our first stop, as it had always been, was the bare tree (why is it that bare trees seem to be the preferred habitat of birds these days?). Unfortunately, there weren't any this morning (perhaps due to the gloomy weather?). As a consolation I took photos of the only species present at that time - the Eurasian Tree Sparrow.

My wife and I both started gazing at the top of the bare tree hoping that some bird (other than Sparrow and the Yellow-vented Bulbul) would show up. Then I saw a tiny speck near the top. I focused my camera on it and was pleasantly surprised to find out what it was. "Philippine Hanging Parrot there!" I told Cynthia.

A Philippine Pied Fantail also dropped by.

A little bit farther and partially covered was a pair of Spotted Doves. It was the first time we've seen this species here in U.P.

From there we proceeded to the MSI grounds. Surprisingly there were no birds there. Except for the ubiquitous Yellow-vented Bulbul.

After a while a family of Philippine Magpie Robins came. However, because of the poor light and their constant movement, we couldn't get any good pictures. As we were about to leave, one of the Magpie Robins perched at the bamboo grove across the street and in better lighting conditions.

At the Astronomical grounds the Long-tailed Shrike was of course at its usual place.

The same with the flock of Scaly-breasted Munias.

The Zebra Dove seemed to have settled in this area as well.

And finally the migrant Brown Shrike joined the group.

Around 8:30 am,  we felt rain drops starting to fall. Time to head back home. Despite the bad weather we still got some passable photos. It was just a matter of hanging in there.

Friday, September 11, 2020

It's back!

During our daily walk around our condo grounds we are always on the look out for birds. Occasionally we would bring binoculars and sometimes our cameras. Since we saw quite a number of birds last Wednesday, on Thursday morning I decided to bring my Canon 5D3 with the Tamron 150-600 lens with me. My wife and I also hoped that the Brown Shrike would be around. Since the beginning of September, we always looked at the places where the annual migrant used to hang out the previous years. And it was still a no show.

After watching the daily morning pilgrimage of the Yellow-vented Bulbuls (for the past couple of months we have observed their daily routine where small groups would fly from South to North stopping now and then on the tree tops by the river, and we wondered why this sudden behavior), we paused by the parking lot to watch the sunrise. It was then that Cynthia heard the twittering of the shrike. We moved closer to the wall and voila! Our hoped for migrant was finally back!

Happy that I got tons of shots of the cooperative shrike, we moved on. As expected the Yellow-vented Bulbul's "towncrier" was at its usual perch and calling loudly to its fellow "pilgrims" who were passing by.

Our next target was the Philippine Pied Fantail. As we approached its usual milieu, a small flock of very active Golden-bellied Gerygones were darting all over the place.

As if that wasn't enough, another flock, this time of Lowland White-eyes mingled with the Gerygones in hunting for their breakfast.

A little further down, the usual pair of Fantails showed up.

Having accomplished our goal (and even got a bonus) we walked back towards our building. Along the way, we heard a Zebra Dove calling. After some effort at trying to locate the source of the cooing, we eventually found the bird partly hidden among the leaves.

As we entered our building, I told my wife that I should at least take a photo of the very common Eurasian Tree Sparrow. Let's go the Great Lawn, she suggested, where this species is definitely a sure sighting. So we did and I got my list of local birds completed.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

M & Ms

At the grounds of U.P. Diliman, my wife and I headed to the bare tree by the roadside hoping that it would host a lot of birds as it had done the previous times we visited it. To our dismay not a single bird was there! Well except for the "trash" bird, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, and technically, it was on an electric post beside the bare tree.

So we moved on. As we rounded a corner, we saw six Crested Mynas on the ground. Soon more came and frolicked on the trees above it. 

It was a little after 6 am and we could feel the warmth of the morning. Even the Mynas seemed to be feeling the heat.

Having had our fill with the black birds, we moved to the haunt of the Long-tailed Shrike. Of course it was at its usual place.

Across from it, on a building under construction, a Zebra Dove was calling.

We then proceeded to where the Scaly-breasted Munias hang out. Of course, they were there. The usual small flock was at first on a small tree then went on to feed on the tall grass beneath.

Cynthia and I both agreed that we should visit the MSI grounds. Along the way, I spotted a Collared Kingfisher perched on an unusual place...the soccer grounds! Strange since there wasn't any body of water nearby.

MSI was a disappointment. The Black-naped Orioles and Coppersmith Barbets were calling but never came into view. Some Golden-bellied Gerygones came by and I managed to get a documentary shot.

Of course, I had an obligatory shot at the Yellow-vented Bulbul.

Thankfully, a Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker was nice enough to hunt for food in full view.

Unlike our previous trips here, we didn't see a lot of birds this time. Perhaps it was the sweltering heat that caused the sparsity of avian species. Were it not for the M & Ms (Mynas and Munias) our sortie would have been a bit of a disappointment.